You may be surprised that one of the first questions a hearing care provider asks when seeing a patient concerned about hearing loss is: How has your blood sugar been?
Studies show that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes and 30% more likely in those with prediabetes.1
What causes or contributes to hearing loss in people with diabetes isn’t totally clear. But we do know that chronic high blood sugar takes its toll on the small blood vessels throughout your body, including those in your ears.
Diabetes can also cause nerve damage. “The cochlea (inner ear) is very small, and the effects of diabetes can have a big impact on hearing nerves, says Amplifon Hearing Health Care’s Director of Clinical Programs, Carrie Meyer, Au.D. “Low blood flow and higher cholesterol levels common with Diabetes have potential to cause damage.”
Symptoms of diabetic nerve damage include pain and numbness, most commonly felt in your legs and feet. However, if the nerves in your ears get damaged, you’ll most likely experience signs of hearing loss.
As with many conditions associated with diabetes, controlling your blood sugar and following your medication and diet guidelines can help you avoid hearing loss. Steering clear of other hearing loss risk factors, such as smoking and over exposure to loud noise, can also help protect your ears.